The Alliance Party fully supports the Corrections Association in their battle to prevent the privatisation of prison management in New Zealand.
Alliance Party co leader Kay Murray says it is horrifying that the National Government has already gone ahead and called for expressions of interest from private organizations in the management of prisons.
“They have totally ignored expert advice, including that of the union representing Corrections staff, who unlike the politicians, actually have to work in our prisons and know first hand what conditions are like.”
Ms Murray says prisons are expensive to run, no matter who is running them.
She says there will be no cost savings in tendering management to private organizations.
“These organizations will want to make a profit. The taxpayers will end up paying the running costs plus the profit margin plus the cost of monitoring private organizations and of the tendering process itself.”
Ms Murray says there is also a real danger that private operators will try to increase their profits by cutting staffing levels and eroding pay and conditions.
“This will endanger prison staff, prisoners and the public at large. Prison staff have a difficult and dangerous job at the best of times.”
She says not many New Zealanders run the risk of serious injury every time they go to work, and prison officers deserve decent wages and working conditions.
They also deserve to have sufficient numbers of staff employed to make sure that prisoners stay behind bars and that the prison environment is as safe as possible for both prison officers and other prisoners.
Ms Murray says overseeing the justice system is a key function of any Government.
“This includes our prisons which are an integral part of our justice system. Prisons must remain owned and run by the state.”